PC vs Nex-Gen gaming console

10 reasons PCs are already better than Nex-Gen consoles

In-Depth Analysis

All this talk of nex-gen consoles and its extreme hardware spells the beginning of a new powerhouse in gaming, however, did you know that PCs are already better than Nex Gen consoles?

We say the above fully acknowledging that consoles are no slouches. Consoles boast an advantage of some exclusive titles, a larger game library and connected peripherals that make the experience very game-centric. The developers focus on ways to get the most out of their hardware. However, those reasons are overshadowed by the fact that…

10. PC hardware is upgradeable

An upgradable motherboard

This is literally the first argument PC enthusiasts use whenever the Master Race’s superiority is questioned.

All consoles have Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) that host GPU and CPU on a single die. This makes the entire unit proverbially set in stone. You might be able to upgrade storage, or add/remove peripherals, but the core module is it. A new console, at first entry, boasts hardware far superior to anything on the market at that price. However, PCs have no technical limitation to upgrades, you could buy an entry-level PC in the morning and turn it into an extreme gaming rig before lunch.

In the time it took for the PlayStation 4 to reach PlayStation 4 Pro status, PCs went from 4th Generation Intel Haswell CPUs coupled with GeForce 700 series GPUs (780Ti being the fastest one) to 7th Generation Intel Kaby Lake CPUs coupled with the GeForce 10 series GPUs (the legendary 1080Ti being the fastest one) a formidable combination even in 2020.

Solid State Drives (SSDs) came to PCs in 1991. It took until 2010 for SSDs (also referred to as flash storage) to become financially accessible, it would take another 10 years for SSDs to officially arrive on consoles. However, they are coming in hot. The PS5’s ~825 GB SSD can reach speeds of up to 5.5GB/sec while the Xbox Series X’s 1 TB SSD is almost half as fast. The PS5 is faster than the fastest commercially available PC SSD, the Samsung 970 Pro.

Meanwhile, in 2019 Gigabyte demonstrated an 8 TB SSD with Read/Write speeds 15GB/sec (PCIe 4.0, 16 lanes) for PCs and those numbers will only go higher and higher.

To be fair, some power users managed to fit SSDs in their PS3s ages ago, which definitely improved performance and some even accomplished that with a PS2 (with some firmware hacking).

PS3 SSD vs HDD.
Courtesy: Backwards Compatible
PS2 SSD via HD Loader.
Courtesy: DJS

We don’t even have to go into RAM, Power Supply or cooling, because PC owners can upgrade those, console owners can’t… well, they can, but they don’t because…

9. PC Developers Have More Freedom

coding

There’s nothing preventing Sony from putting out a new model every year, but the game developers take years to develop a truly well-polished game. They take into account all of a console’s specs and limitations before committing anything to code.

Note: Consoles always sell at a loss. The original Sony PlayStation 4 cost $371, just to build. Throw in the cost of marketing and that number would be higher. Still, it sold for $350. They aren’t being philanthropic, of course. That’s not where they make their money. They make that back through game licenses and game sales.

Console makers wouldn’t dare mess up their meal ticket by upsetting developers with an unreliable production schedule. If a developer builds a game knowing full-well that these specs are all they have to work with, they intelligently work around limitations. This is why games like God of War have such long dialogue between Fast Travel, so the game may load the coming level (instead of a dull loading screen).

On a PC, developers are bound by no such limitations. They keep some minimum requirements in mind (so that a lot of people buy their game) and then let loose. We’ve discussed how Crysis came out at a time when even the most powerful hardware available couldn’t max that game out.

With the open-ended nature of accepting all sorts of inputs, devs can keep a much more open mind on things like key-mapping and functionality. None of that even mentions…

8. PCs feature versatile displays

Multi display setup

The PS4 Pro or even the Xbox One X was able to up their performance from FHD@30FPS to 60FPS, or 4K@30FPS on certain titles from their previous iterations and the nex-gen releases claim to have 4K@120FPS within reach. We don’t know if they can perform better than that, we do know that widescale commercially available displays will touch 4K@120Hz. So, content running at 120FPS will look really smooth on a 120Hz display.

That said, high-end PCs can output to any imaginable display resolution. Some PC displays have reached 360Hz refresh rate (that’s 360FPS with the right hardware) and prototype screens pushing well past 480Hz. Those massive framerates make a lot of difference to pro-gamers, but the average consumer tends to be quite satisfied around144Hz (which is achievable at FHD, 2K and some overclocked 4K gaming displays).

In certain configurations (involving multiple monitors), people have been able to output to 16K displays on a PC and that’s just in 16:9 aspect ratio. PCs can output to as many monitors as you need/want. Or, you can go even further with ultrawide displays, the full master race.

Most modern games can output to any sized display. Ultrawide displays have a practical advantage for work, but also gaming, in that you have a bigger viewing space, better immersion, and better viewing angles (if curved).

Put all of that together and you can touch resolutions of 5120×1440@120 Hz at a 32:9 aspect ratio. Like having two 2K monitors side by side. Smooth, ultrawide and high-res. PCs, being kings of overkill city, let you connect multiple ultrawide displays together too. Your entire world can be a cascade of monitors. That kind of output isn’t part of the console experience.

Lastly, FreeSync/G-Sync. FreeSync is AMD’s proprietary certification that ensures your purchased monitor supports synchronization technology for variable refresh rates. When the content and monitor’s framerates are misaligned (i.e. one is faster than the other), there can be visible stuttering and/or tearing. This tearing manifests itself as a diagonal line across the game screen. FreeSync monitors prevent all that.

Since consoles games don’t have variable refresh-rates, there isn’t any need for either of those standards, however, with a PC, this ensures a tear-free experience even if your computer is putting out images faster than your display’s ability to update them.

Which is great, since PCs are more…

7. Affordable

Cheap PC

“No PCs are not”, you might think. For every high-end peak performing gaming rig that costs thousands of dollars, there are very affordable, reasonably performing machines that get all manners of jobs done and with each new iteration, a previous version becomes cheaper. Just because a 10th Generation Core i9 came out, doesn’t mean the 9th Gen Core i9 weakened.

As of writing this article, the PS4 Pro is worth $399 and the Xbox One X goes for $350. A PC priced at $574 delivers 60+FPS performance in FHD and 30FPS+ in 4K, which is the baseline performance of current-gen consoles.

Nex-gen consoles are expected to sell close to $500, however, matching (or surpassing) 4k@120FPS will likely require a PC that costs in the vicinity of $2000 today. However, as we’ve already mentioned how PCs keep coming out and prices keep dropping. By 2021, that $2000 PC will be available for $600-$700, while that generation’s $2000 PC could be pushing 8K@120FPS (don’t hold us to that).

6. Nothing Beats a Keyboard and Mouse

Image Courtesy: Jean-Marc Trappler / CC BY-SA

A controller is an all-in-one input device. Shooter games have been coming out on consoles since Wolfenstein 3D in 1993 for the Super Nintendo. When it comes to games where the camera is controlled by the user, there is no means to replicate the control granted by a mouse and keyboard combination.

Competitive gamers for strategy or shooter games will get much more mileage out of a Keyboard and mouse (hundreds of keys/buttons) especially since keyboard/mouse input is much faster.

The average DualShock 4 controller has an input lag of 13.3milliseconds, an Xbox One X controller has a lag of 17.4milliseconds. Meanwhile, the similarly priced Logitech G Pro boasts an input lag of 8.6milliseconds. A faster mouse means better control, which means higher precision.

To be fair, that is a marginal difference for the average gamer. Those who play cross-platform games like COD Warzone, or Fortnite or even PUBG will agree that someone on a keyboard and mouse will have a much higher success rate than a gamer with a controller.

Almost everyone who qualified for the Fortnite world cup used a keyboard and mouse. If this discussion was taking place back in the ’90s (with modern controllers), one could argue that it was a simple matter of conditioning. However, some professional e-sports gamers have grown up in a world with equal access to modern controllers and keyboard/mouse and get better mileage out of PC peripherals.

Suppose you have a fondness for a controller and absolutely must have it be part of your gaming experience. PCs can accept input from literally any controller in the market. With the nature of modern games, they even adapt to that controller and show you native controls. Batman Arkham Knight immediately reverts to its clearly console optimized controls as soon as you plug in a DualShock 4, or an Xbox One controller.

Besides, if you want to play with controllers, PCs have you covered as they have better…

5. Cross-Platform and Backward Compatibility

retro game
Image by MasterTux from Pixabay

While all consoles have attempted to sell the idea of backward compatibility, no platform has truly accomplished that as efficiently as the PC. You can play anything from Atari 2600 games (the very first console) all the way to PlayStation 3 games, using emulators. Current generation emulation is a tad challenging, but expect that to go mainstream in a few years’ time.

If you want to play Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild at 4K resolution using an Xbox One controller, PC has got you covered.

Any game that came out on a PC, ever, is either immediately, or some minor configurations away from being playable. On consoles, however, other than remasters, or rereleases, there exists no way for you to play an Xbox game on an Xbox One X, or a PS1 game on a PS4 Pro.

This is why Livestreamers commemorate the release of Doom Eternal with a playthrough of every Doom game committed to code on a PC.

4. E-Sports

Courtesy: BobYoMeowMeow
Ancient video, but you get the idea

Competitive gaming is a billion-dollar industry with leagues, stadiums full of people and franchises. All e-sports players are vying for the top spot around the world on their game of choice. This is not exclusive to PC. Console gamers have competitive events as well, including games like Tekken, Fifa, Street Fighter, Fortnite, etc. incidentally they are not considered console exclusives. However, games like CounterStrike, League of Legends, DOTA2, StarCraft II, and so many others are what bring the fans to arenas and sponsors to events and they are PC exclusives.

That is where the money is made en masse. If you plan on becoming a competitive gamer, PC gamers have every opportunity that a console gamer does, and then some.

3. Modding

An informal noun for modify, modding is when a community of developers look at a game and think of ways to improve it. While Nvidia is priding itself on bringing RTX to Minecraft, the modding community had already accomplished this:

Courtesy: Ultimate Immersion

Same goes for Skyrim:

Courtesy: Toxic Gaming

And Fallout New Vegas:

Courtesy: Sinitar Gaming

Some console games can help themselves to mods, but nowhere in the console era, can you do this in GTA V:

Courtesy: Typical Gamer

2. Other Uses of a PC

PCs were never designed for gaming, but that relationship has become symbiotic since that’s where games are made in the first place.

Despite all the compatibility and prowess of nex-gen consoles, their fate as anything more than powerful media centers is unlikely. You will not be able to process work, browse sites, multi-task between activities from a console. Admittedly that’s not what consoles are designed for.

PCs are capable of doing all of that. Plug in an HDMI to stream content to your TV and browse sites on your PC/Laptop screen in parallel (ADHD-bois represent) or open multiple work windows all at once.

1. Portability

Photo by Jay from Pexels

Even though certain machines like ASUS GZ700 (coming soon), The now abandoned ACER Predator 21X and the ever-popular (and user upgradeable) Alienware Area 51m reside in a category of their own (called Desktop replacements), they qualify as laptops none-the-less and can be carried around the entire planet and played on almost anywhere. Something a console cannot accomplish.

PSP and Switch owners understand the advantage of having some entertainment handy on long flights/train/bus rides. PC owners, however, can take all of that up several notches.

You might remember that the biggest battery allowed on a plane is 99Whr, which might last some laptops upwards of 9 hours and others might be lucky to see the end of 60 minutes. It depends on how much work you make it do.

Besides, laptops aren’t cheap. However, if you are traveling for a short duration, it does not make sense for you to carry your entire console along, or a desktop PC for that matter. But a laptop is built for that exact use-case. You might not be able to play throughout the entire transit, but you can get right back at it as soon as you near a power outlet.

Conclusion

If you can afford a high-end gaming PC, that is great, you are covered. You might not even consider a console unless you wanted access to some really epic exclusive titles (even though those are fast becoming extinct). However, if you really just want to have a relaxing and fun experience, then, honestly it doesn’t matter what you choose.

Strictly from a technical perspective, all gaming is Personal Computer (PC) gaming. Phones are smaller PCs, Consoles are purpose-built PCs, Tablets are medium-sized PCs.

So, PC gaming is the best way to do it, but if a debate was to break out about what incarnation of gaming is the best… well, there you go.

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